Mindfulness is often confused with meditation, and while they do have similar characteristics and techniques, they are very different. It is often helpful to think of mindfulness as a way of becoming more aware of the world around you in that moment in time. Meditation is a way of letting go of thoughts and experiencing inner peace, calmness, and balance. It is less about observing and more about turning inward.
With that general description in mind, it is easier to see how mindfulness, or the practice of being “in the moment” is possible throughout the day. There is no need to find a quiet space or create a routine to focus inward. Instead, people can learn to be mindful of the world they are in at any given point in time.
Let’s look at a few easy ways to incorporate mindfulness into daily activities both at work and at home.
Mindful eating is a great way to start the day or to take a mental break at lunch. Rather than checking emails or checking up on social media posts, tune into the entire experience of eating.
Take the time to look at your food, to see your surroundings, and to appreciate all that you have. Use all your senses, including your sense of smell, to experience the food before you take the first bite. When you do take a bite, give yourself time to feel the texture of the food, feel the sensation of chewing, and experience the flavors in your mouth. Feel the food passing down your throat as you swallow.
This exercise can be done when you are eating alone or with others. If you are with others, observe the people, really take the time to hear the sound of their voices, and to experience being with them in the moment.
Take a Nature Break for Health
Getting out of the office or workplace and being outside is another form of mindfulness. As with the mindful eating exercise, engage all your senses as you go for a walk. Focus your mind on the colors and shapes you see, the sounds you hear, the things you feel, smell, and perhaps even taste.
This is not about letting go of thoughts. Instead, it is about refocusing your mind on the experience at the moment. By getting “out of your head” you let go of anxiety and stress about the what ifs, allowing for more effective decision making, creativity, and problem solving.
Recreate Your World
Another mindfulness exercise you can do anywhere is to take a minute and really look at your surroundings. Notice all the details and items in the environment. Then, close your eyes and visualize the space in your head. If this is too difficult at first, start by examining one object in detail and then closing your eyes, learning to capture and replay all the details in a mindful way.
These exercises help you to clear your mind and declutter your thinking processes. The more you use mindfulness, the easier these activities will become.